Sleep Troubles? Here Are The Best Sources Of Melatonin You Can Try
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best melatonin sources you can add to your diet to improve your sleep.
Melatonin, widely known as a ‘sleep’ hormone, is produced by the pineal gland and helps in regulating the sleep and wake cycle. Low levels of melatonin in the body, when you are sleepy, can lead to insomnia and numerous sleep disorders.
Some people find it troublesome to fall asleep at conventional bedtimes, others suffer from a constant jet lag like problem and shift work sleep disorder. This is because the levels of melatonin are considerably low in their bodies.
Also Read: Tips To Deal With Shift Work Sleep Disorder
People suffering from sleep disorders can make certain dietary and lifestyle changes to overcome these.
Best Melatonin Sources
- Complex Carbohydrates: When blood sugar levels are high, a person tends to feel tired and sleepy. Complex carbohydrates increase tryptophan and serotonin, these two brain chemicals are involved in sleep modulation. Having starchy carbohydrates can hasten the sleeping process. Pairing a carbohydrate-rich meal with protein-rich ingredients ensures the production of sleep-inducing serotonin beyond doubt. Grains, cereals, starchy and fibrous vegetables are healthy choices.
- Nuts: Nuts are an excellent source of fat that is healthy for the overall metabolism of the body and heart health. Specific nuts contain melatonin which can positively influence one’s sleep cycle. In fact, nuts are the richest plant-based source of melatonin.
- Almonds: An ounce of almonds contains 70-75 mg of magnesium, making them an extremely rich source. Magnesium has a calming effect on our nerves and controls neurotransmitters. Along with regulating melatonin production, it helps to get a good night’s sleep.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are a great source of melatonin. Snacking on walnuts one to two hours before sleep can easily set the body clock right. This is because walnuts increase blood melatonin concentration. One gram of walnuts contains two to four nanograms of melatonin.
- Pistachios: Apart from having excellent taste, pistachios also contain high melatonin amounts. Eating a few before bed can make one fall asleep more easily.
- Milk: Milk has precisely the right amount of melatonin and is a completely natural source of the same. The presence of melatonin and tryptophan directly link it with sleep relaxation.
- Fruits: A variety of foods contain melatonin and can make one fall asleep without waking up during the night.
- Cherries: An average-size cherry contains about 13 nanograms of melatonin. Tart cherries and tart cherry juice are specifically rich in melatonin and can help with jet lag and insomnia. Melatonin from cherries can easily be absorbed by the human body.
- Bananas: Bananas are known to have relaxant qualities. They contain L-tryptophan which is further converted to melatonin.
- Grapes and Strawberries: There is a high concentration of the sleep-regulating hormone in grapes and strawberries. You can naturally fix your sleep and wake cycle by adding these fruits to your diet.
- Vegetables: Melatonin is present in a number of vegetables. Although it is undetectable in a few vegetables, others have high concentrations of it. Potatoes and beetroots contain melatonin but not in high concentrations. However, pepper, capsicum, and mushrooms contain relatively high melatonin amounts. Sweet corn also contains plant-based melatonin along with magnesium. Other vegetables like cucumbers, onions, cabbages, and carrots also contain melatonin.
- Animal Foods: Eggs and fish contain the highest amounts of melatonin in animal-based foods. The addition of these in one’s diet before going to bed can help in getting a sound sleep.
- Chicken and Turkey: Too many of these meats in one sitting have a common reputation for making one feel drowsy and sluggish. This is because, both turkey and chicken, contain amino acids that are converted to serotonin, and serotonin is further converted to melatonin.
- Oats: Nutritionists over the years have suggested that a bowl of oat cookies will hurt you less than it can positively influence your sleep schedule. Oats are one of the most important natural sources of melatonin.
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Natural levels of melatonin are highest at night time. However, the production of melatonin can be disturbed and disrupted due to exposure to light or the wrong diet when sleep-deprived. The problems become chronic when the circadian rhythm is disrupted and a person finds himself/herself unable to sleep. This, in turn, leads to a number of health issues apart from sleep disorders.
To tackle these, simply making lifestyle changes is not enough at times. Taking melatonin supplements should be considered if the problem becomes too grave or untreatable by a change in diet or sleep environment.
It is advised to take melatonin supplements two hours before bedtime. If you travel frequently and are jet-lagged, consider taking them regularly before making a trip.
It is vital to increase total sleep time while maintaining the quality of sleep. However, taking melatonin along with birth control pills, diabetes medication, or anti-coagulants can be extremely harmful. Take supplements only after proper consultation with your doctor.
Melatonin supplements are usually known to be safe for consumption. It does not have a hangover effect and it is unlikely for someone to be dependent on melatonin. All in all, with proper consultation, it is a safe supplement to use, especially for treating short-term nutritional deficiencies.
Side Effects of Melatonin Supplementation
- Consuming a large amount of melatonin at the same time can cause drowsiness and fatigue.
- Extremely high doses have detrimental effects on the reproductive system of an individual.
- It can also potentially cause stomach cramps and headaches.
Other less serious side effects of synthetic supplementation might include short-lasting feelings of depression, anxiety, overthinking, reduced alertness towards the surroundings, and even hypotension.
It is wise to take supplements with proper guidance and commitment to a specified time period.
Best Melatonin Sources: Wrap Up
Melatonin is considered a ‘sleep aid’. There is no doubt that natural sources of melatonin are completely safe and healthy. Not only do they increase melatonin in the body but also several other vitamins and minerals.
If these natural methods are able to keep the circadian cycle under check and the body clock in sync with your sleep schedule, supplementation is not necessary. However, not getting enough sleep can have negative long-term consequences and can prove to be harmful to overall health.
Melatonin supplements have an excellent safety profile. Yet, it would be nice to consult a doctor before considering synthetic supplementation.
June 16, 2020 Sam Bell